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Comparison of bacteriologic culture results for skin wound swabs and skin wound biopsy specimens

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  • 1 From the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843.
  • | 2 From the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843.
  • | 3 From the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To compare bacteriologic culture results for superficial swab and tissue biopsy specimens obtained from dogs with open skin wounds.

ANIMALS

52 client-owned dogs.

PROCEDURES

For each dog, 1 wound underwent routine preparation prior to collection of 2 specimens, 1 by superficial swab (Levine) technique and 1 by tissue biopsy. Specimens were processed for bacteriologic culture. Two observers determined whether any detected difference in culture results for the 2 types of specimen would have resulted in differing treatment plans.

RESULTS

Culture results of swab and tissue biopsy specimens were identical in 11/52 (21.2%) cases. Tissue biopsy specimen and swab cultures yielded positive results for 44 (84.6%) and 40 (76.9%) wounds, respectively. With regard to mean recovery rates of bacteria from wounds with positive culture results, both the biopsy specimens and swabs yielded 3.4 bacterial species/wound. All wounds for which swab cultures yielded no growth also had negative culture results for biopsy specimens. Biopsy specimen and swab culture results were in agreement with regard to the most common bacteria cultured. In 7/52 (13%) wounds, the observers would have treated the patient differently on the basis of the results of the 2 cultures.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Results indicated that culture of a swab collected by the Levine technique is an appropriate noninvasive alternative to culture of a tissue biopsy specimen. A negative result obtained from culture of a swab is likely to be reliable. Disagreement between the results of swab and tissue biopsy specimen cultures is likely of low clinical importance.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To compare bacteriologic culture results for superficial swab and tissue biopsy specimens obtained from dogs with open skin wounds.

ANIMALS

52 client-owned dogs.

PROCEDURES

For each dog, 1 wound underwent routine preparation prior to collection of 2 specimens, 1 by superficial swab (Levine) technique and 1 by tissue biopsy. Specimens were processed for bacteriologic culture. Two observers determined whether any detected difference in culture results for the 2 types of specimen would have resulted in differing treatment plans.

RESULTS

Culture results of swab and tissue biopsy specimens were identical in 11/52 (21.2%) cases. Tissue biopsy specimen and swab cultures yielded positive results for 44 (84.6%) and 40 (76.9%) wounds, respectively. With regard to mean recovery rates of bacteria from wounds with positive culture results, both the biopsy specimens and swabs yielded 3.4 bacterial species/wound. All wounds for which swab cultures yielded no growth also had negative culture results for biopsy specimens. Biopsy specimen and swab culture results were in agreement with regard to the most common bacteria cultured. In 7/52 (13%) wounds, the observers would have treated the patient differently on the basis of the results of the 2 cultures.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Results indicated that culture of a swab collected by the Levine technique is an appropriate noninvasive alternative to culture of a tissue biopsy specimen. A negative result obtained from culture of a swab is likely to be reliable. Disagreement between the results of swab and tissue biopsy specimen cultures is likely of low clinical importance.

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to Dr. Thieman Mankin (kthieman@cvm.tamu.edu).